Encouragingly, officials in both Baltimore and Chicago said they want to move forward with plans for police reforms no matter what the federal government does. Lynch called for an overhaul of the department, culminating in the consent decree set to be discussed during the hearing Thursday.
“We feel like there is sufficient evidence that our clients and the residents of Baltimore and their right to be free of unconstitutional policing are not adequately represented by the DOJ”, said Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP-LDF.
“You know, after we adopted those suggestions, I think you saw a downturn in proactive policing in the last few years in the way the environment’s been in the country”, said Casaday. “The people that actually live here; the people that actually have experienced some type of brutality with an officer, these are the people that are asking for it, so now our Department of Justice, the new person that’s running it, is going to come in and say now we’re going to do a reform? Why? Why?” That left city leaders stunned, and pledging to carry out reforms as best they can.
The agreement was the product of a investigation of the Baltimore Police Department following the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man whose neck was broken in a police transport wagon.
FILE – In this March 31, 2016, file photo, a Baltimore Police Department patch is seen on an officer’s uniform as he stands on a street corner during a foot patrol in Baltimore.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ order for a review of Department of Justice consent decrees with local police departments should not affect Warren’s 2012 agreement because it already is close to completion, acccording to Law Director Gregory Hicks.
The hearing will be held at U.S. District Court in Baltimore, 101 West Lombard St., beginning at 9:30 a.m.
U.S. District James Bredar rejected the request Wednesday, saying in his order that pushing back the hearing “at the eleventh hour” would be a “burden and inconvenience to the court, other parties, and most importantly, the public“.
The public will get a chance to weigh in Thursday about the city’s consent decree. Hundreds of people are expected to testify, and other judges had cleared their dockets to accommodate the widely-publicized hearing.
“The City and [Baltimore Police Department] worked diligently over these months of negotiations with lawyers for the United States to ensure the decree would ‘advance the safety and protection of the public, promote officer safety and morale, protect and respect the civil rights of all members of the public, respect local control of law enforcement. and do not impede recruitment and training of officers, ‘” lawyers for the city wrote.
Prior, the DOJ spokesman, declined to comment on whether Sessions had read the Justice Department’s investigation into the Baltimore Police Department, which was released in August 2016. The settlement was the result of a 2015 investigation into the department that found Baltimore police were engaging in “a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution as well as federal anti-discrimination laws”. Bredar did not address the Justice Department’s broader argument that top officials in the new administration needed more time to review the deal, which was struck in the waning days of the Obama administration.
John Gore, deputy assistant attorney general in the agency’s Civil Rights Division, said the department “certainly agrees that there is a critical need for police reform” in Baltimore, but that reform is “really the job of local officials”.
But Davis and Pugh stressed that a court-enforceable agreement will enable the department to implement those reforms.